Les trois aveugles de Compiègne, fabliau du XIIIe siècle by Georges Gougenheim

By Georges Gougenheim

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Sample text

Before him the fence stretched tight over the humped land. He could see a third of a mile of it bordering the open field, every post belly-deep in stones. The planes passed so quickly and, standing there with his hand raised for a last brush, Thom suddenly experienced, like a water-bucket emptied over him, the weeks and months spent gathering rocks from the field and piling them, one by one, along the fence until only enough post showed for a top wire. To grow something took a long time, and the machines for it were slow.

The references to Thom’s “empty self” and to the “void” within him at these moments describe the condition in which he has lived since reacting so violently against Block, a condition of “fearful vacuum” (this page), the principles on which he has based his life (non-violence among them) disowned by him. The night of the school concert, forces operate upon him to draw him back from the point he has earlier reached. The moments noted above are among them; so is the figure of Hank Unger, back from the war, boasting of his killings.

He does not really want to convert the child; he prefers to evade the problems she would create in a community ordered the way his is. Contradictions of this order lead Thom to a crisis; for him the choice seems to be one of following tradition or following Christ. Ironically, the community has become the “world” which he must overcome. He is brought, however, when he learns what happened to Elizabeth, to yet another land of crisis. Stepping into Elizabeth’s grave at her funeral to effect the final placing of the coffin, Thom had been strangely affected viewing “all Wapiti” (see this page) from that vantage point.

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